The cold-weather No. 9 Lions (10-2, 7-2) will be heading toward some warm weather as the team prepares to take on No. 11 Washington in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, December 30 at 4 p.m.
Held in Arizona, the Fiesta Bowl last hosted Penn State in January 1997, when the Lions defeated the Texas Longhorns 38-15.
This time around, the Blue and White will take on the Huskies. The teams last met in the 1983 Aloha Bowl, and Penn State won by a narrow 13-10 margin.
Head Coach James Franklin noted that he is cautiously excited about the opportunity to play against Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.
“We have had a great season…But I’m focused on Penn State and playing the best we possibly can play every single week and helping our guys develop and excited about playing in the Fiesta Bowl,” said Franklin. “More than that, I don’t have a whole lot of concerns. But we’re really excited about the Fiesta Bowl.”
Coach Franklin and Washington’s Coach Chris Petersen have known each other for many years as both have worked for Nike-sponsored teams.
The pair have a good relationship, and both are well-aware of the strengths that the other brings to the table.
One item that Penn State will have to approach with great strategy will be the leaving of former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Moorhead had two successful seasons at Penn State and was then tapped to be head coach at Mississippi State University.
Moorhead has stated that he will not coach either team in a bowl game this season, and he promises not to steal recruits from Penn State.
In his place will be Ricky Rahne, who will retain his other position as quarterbacks coach. Rahne has been with the team for many years.
Phil Gailano was hired on by the Lions to be the special teams coordinator and the assistant defensive line coach. Gailano most recently was at Rutgers as their special teams coordinator. Gailano also has NFL experience – he worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a brief time as a special teams assistant.
The other newest coaching name is Tyler Bowen, who got his start as a graduate assistant at Penn State before heading to Maryland for one season as offensive line coach. Coach Bowen will be the tight ends coach for the Blue and White.
Although there will be an adjustment period as the team works with these changes while prepping for the Fiesta Bowl, Coach Franklin has voiced that he is confident the team will still be poised and ready for the challenge come gameday.
Fans who are looking to make the trip to Arizona should follow the Bowl Ticket Timeline provided by Go PSU Sports. Alumni Association ticket sales are on Tuesday, December 5 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. or until sold out and general public ticket sales are on Wednesday, December 6 at 10 a.m., depending on availability.
Who will we see in Arizona on December 30, Nittany Nation?